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September 20, 2021

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Britain vows to stem gas price fallout

Britain said it would work with the energy industry to try to stem the fallout from soaring gas prices after fears grew that more energy providers and food producers would struggle to operate

Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said on Saturday he had been reassured that the security of gas supply was not a cause for immediate concern but he would work with providers to “manage the wider implications of the global gas price increase.”

Kwarteng held emergency talks with executives from National Grid, Centrica, EDF and the regulator Ofgem on Saturday and was due to hold further discussions with industry figures on yesterday and today.

A jump in gas prices has already forced several domestic energy suppliers out of business and has shut fertilizer plants that also produce carbon dioxide, used to stun animals before slaughter and prolong the shelf-life of food.

Consumer groups and opposition politicians have warned that some customers and businesses will struggle to pay higher bills. The BBC reported that at least four small British energy companies were expected to go bust this week.

The Business department said the pressures facing firms were discussed during the meeting. Kwarteng said no customer would go without gas or power because an alternative supplier would be found if one went bust. “Protecting customers during a time of heightened global gas prices is an absolute priority,” he said on Twitter.

The government has been moved to act after low gas storage levels, decreased supplies from Russia, low renewables output and nuclear maintenance outages combined to more than triple European gas prices this year, hitting record highs.

The impact was immediately felt in the UK food sector where the shortage of CO2, also used in beer, cider and soft drinks, compounded an acute shortage of truck drivers, which has been blamed on the impact of COVID-19 and Brexit.


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